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Bubbles and Bites: Chef's Food and Sparkling Wine Pairings

Posted Wednesday, Mar. 05, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

Makes 2-3 servings

 3 6-inch beef marrow bones,

 halved lengthwise

 1 small baguette, sliced into

 half-inch slices

 2 tablespoons olive oil

 1 ounce capers, drained

 Salsa verde (recipe follows)

 Sea salt, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the bones in a smoking hot saute pan and allow to roast on the stove for approximately 7 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

2. Meanwhile, place baguette slices on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until just golden.

3. Place the bones marrow-side up on a baking sheet. Heat in the oven for 5 minutes until the marrow is hot and melted.

4. In a small saute pan, heat the oil and fry the capers until crispy.

5. Brush the bones evenly with the salsa verde. (Note: There may be extra salsa for another use.) Stack bones on a plate, sprinkle with capers and sea salt and serve with toasted baguette slices.

— 155 E. Fourth St., Fort Worth,

817-332-2473, www.birdinthe.net

Makes about 1 cup

 4 garlic cloves, chopped

 4 shallots, chopped

 2 bunches parsley, chopped

 1 cup capers, drained

 5 anchovy fillets

 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until combined.

Makes 4 servings

 1 1/2 tablespoons gluten-free


 1 1/2 tablespoons honey

 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

 1/2 tablespoon rice wine


 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

 4 tablespoons extra-virgin

 olive oil, divided use

 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned

 1/2 onion, julienned

 1 pound large sea scallops

 8-10 strips of prosciutto

1. In a small bowl, whisk together tamari, honey, mustard, vinegar and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

2. In a small pan, heat 1 table- spoon olive oil and saute the red bell pepper until soft. Remove from pan and reserve.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same pan and saute the onions until caramelized. Set aside.

4. Pat scallops dry with paper towels and wrap each with one slice of prosciutto.

5. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook scallops in a single layer, flipping once, until golden brown and just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. (Work in batches, if needed, adding the remaining 1 tablespoon oil when needed.) Transfer scallops to a large plate as done.

6. Reduce heat to medium low and allow skillet to cool a bit, then add tamari-honey mixture to skillet and simmer briefly until reduced to a glaze.

7. Drizzle sauce over scallops and garnish each scallop with bell peppers and caramelized onions.

— 910 Houston St.,

Fort Worth, 817-850-9463,


Makes 6 crab cakes

For the crab cakes:

 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat

 1/3 cup chopped red onion

 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper

 1/3 cup chopped celery

 1/3 cup mayonnaise

 1 tablespoon white-wine Dijon


 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

 1 teaspoon kosher salt

 1 teaspoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

 2 cups panko breadcrumbs, divided

 Oil for frying

 Chardonnay Beurre Blanc

 (recipe follows)

 Grape Tomato Salad (recipe follows)

 Micro greens, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine crab cake ingredients, reserving 1 cup of panko crumbs. Mix so that all ingredients are evenly distributed.

2. Form into six 3- to 4-ounce patties, pressing well to form.

3. Coat patties in reserved panko crumbs.

4. Pan-fry the patties until golden brown.

5. Finish in 400-degree oven until patties are cooked through.

6. Top with chardonnay beurre blanc and garnish with grape tomato salad and micro greens.

— 4101 Camp Bowie Blvd.,

Fort Worth, 817-546-6843,


Makes 3 cups

 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

 1 shallot, julienned

 1 tablespoon chopped garlic

 1 teaspoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

 1 teaspoon sherry wine vinegar

 1 tablespoon olive oil

 Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Keep refrigerated.

Makes 1 cup

 2 tablespoons oil

 1 shallot, chopped

 3 cloves garlic, chopped

 4 ounces chardonnay

 4 tablespoons heavy cream

 1 tablespoon sugar

 1/2 pound unsalted butter

1. Heat saute pan with oil and saute shallot and garlic until caramelized.

2. Deglaze the pan with chardonnay, bring to a boil and allow to reduce by half.

3. Add heavy cream and sugar and bring to a boil again, and then remove from heat.

4. Whisk in butter in 1-ounce chunks, then strain sauce and serve.

Makes 4-5 servings

 1/2 white onion, finely chopped

 2 tablespoons jalapeño, finely


 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

 1 teaspoon black pepper

 1/2 tablespoon parsley, finely


 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper

 1 teaspoon onion powder

 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

 1 egg

 1/4 cup buttermilk

 1/4 cup half-and-half

 4 pounds boneless sea bass, cut

 to desired size

 Saffron Risotto (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine onion, jalapeño, salt, garlic, pepper, parsley, breadcrumbs, lemon pepper, onion powder and flour in a mixing bowl.

2. Whisk together the egg, buttermilk and half-and-half and brush mixture on top of each piece of sea bass.

3. Place sea bass, egg wash-side down, into the jalapeño crust mixture.

4. Heat olive oil in a saute pan and sear sea bass, crust-side down. Remove from pan and place in the oven, crust-side up, for 10 to 12 minutes until done. Serve atop saffron risotto.

— 1265 S. Main St., Grapevine,

817-421-0200, www.thewinewood.com

Makes 4-5 servings

 2 tablespoons salted butter

 1/2 white onion, diced small

 1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced

 1 1/2 cups arborio rice

 1/4 cup white wine

 4 cups chicken stock

 1 cup water

 1 teaspoon chicken base

 Pinch saffron threads

 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

 1 tablespoon kosher salt

 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

 1 tablespoon tomato paste

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan and saute the onion, garlic and rice.

2. When the rice starts to become soft, deglaze the pan with the wine, then add chicken stock.

3. In a separate pan, add the water, chicken base and saffron threads.

4. Once the rice has consumed almost all of the liquid, add the water and saffron mixture and stir continuously. Season risotto with sugar, salt, pepper and tomato paste and continue to stir until all liquid is absorbed and the mixture is sticky.

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The bite: Beef Bone Marrow

The bubbles: 1999 Nicolas Feuillatte, Brut Champagne

We’re seeing bone marrow on more menus lately, and Bird Café wine director Brian Herman explains why it pairs so well with sparkling wine.

“It’s incredibly rich. It’s mouth-coating. People tend to describe this dish as the most luxurious butter you could have,” he says. “When you have a dish like that, you need something that brings fresh and bright flavors to the table. The richness of the marrow coats your tongue, and the acidity of the bubbly helps reset the palate so that the next bite is just as outrageous as the first.”

We break out the bubbly for special occasions without batting an eye, but area wine experts suggest sparkling wine not be reserved for celebrations.

Drink fizz with food, they say, because sparklers like champagne, prosecco, cava and moscato are the most versatile wines to pair with cuisine, thanks to their minerality and palate-cleansing properties. They can cut through rich and fatty dishes, hold up to ingredients with high acidity and add excitement to a meal in the form of tongue-tickling bubbles.

“You can have it with dessert, seafood or a steak,” says Cef Zambrano, sommelier and owner of Zambrano Wine Cellar. “When I ask customers if they’d like to start with champagne, so many people say, ‘Well, I’m not celebrating.’ They think bubbles are only a celebratory wine.”

Brian Herman, wine director at Bird Café, says there’s a great bubbly available at every price point now.

“It’s certainly great for special occasions. But it’s also great to start a meal and end a meal,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be wrapped up in all this mystery.”

A 17th-century Benedictine monk named Dom Pérignon famously exclaimed he was “drinking the stars” upon his accidental discovery of champagne. Savvy sippers know true champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France, and although its production adheres to a strict, centuries-old process that many connoisseurs insist leads to a higher-quality product, other sparkling wines are becoming increasingly popular.

“There are some California sparkling wines that have similar notes to champagne,” says Eric O’Connor, executive chef and general manager at Winslow’s Wine Cafe. “But prosecco is a big mover for us. I think it’s due to the sweet flavor and drinkability.”

In Grapevine at Winewood Grill, wine director Cody Peters says he has also seen a rise in the popularity of the Italian sparkler.

“Prosecco is slightly sweeter than champagne and even the California sparkling wines,” Peters says. “People prefer a little sweetness but also want the bubbly to be dry, clean and refreshing.”

For traditionalists who won’t stray from true champagne, Herman says grower champagnes — those from wineries that grow their own grapes rather than outsource them — are “definitely where it’s at.”

“What’s old is new again,” he says. “You have legacy houses like Veuve Clicquot and Nicolas Feuillatte that are buying grapes from everybody, and that’s pretty much the norm. But for grower champagnes, it’s less about consistent year-to-year house style and more about the year-to-year changes.”

Whether you adore asti spumante or go gaga for Spanish cava, their festive effervescence provides balance for many dishes. We asked four food and wine pros to share recipes for their favorite pairings of bites and bubbles.


The bite: Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallops with Tamari Sauce

The bubbles: Lucian Albrecht Brut Rosé

Many restaurants give a complimentary dessert for customer birthdays. Cef Zambrano gives a glass of port or bubbly, and most folks choose the latter.

“Champagne is the most versatile of all wines,” Zambrano says. “I usually pick a white or a red, but when I get champagne, I always tell myself, ‘Gosh, this is my favorite.’ In fact, it very well may be my favorite wine.”

That’s saying a lot, as Zambrano is constantly tasting wines and pairing dishes at his namesake restaurant, now in its seventh year. He says his recommended French sparkling wine matches well with his meaty and savory prosciutto-wrapped scallops topped with tamari sauce, a thicker, darker, less-salty version of soy sauce.


The bite: Crab Cakes with Grape Tomato Salad and Chardonnay Beurre Blanc

The bubbles: Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve Champagne

Winslow’s executive chef Eric O’Connor says sweet notes from jumbo lump crab meat, along with spicy seasonings, balance well with crisp, dry champagne.

“You get a nice contrast,” he says. “Crab cakes are a menu item people at the restaurant really enjoy with sparkling wine.”

Ask for O’Connor’s recommended pairing, Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve, because it’s not on the restaurant’s wine menu. O’Connor says for its price point and consistency, the bottle is a bargain.


The bite: Jalapeño & Onion Crusted Chilean Sea Bass over Saffron Risotto

The bubbles: Cantine Maschio Prosecco

Cody Peters, Winewood Grill wine director, says his recommended Italian prosecco is one of his bestselling wines. Its sweetness helps settle the spice found in the Grapevine restaurant’s jalapeño and onion-crusted sea bass.

“Recent trends have more people choosing prosecco over French champagne or California sparkling wine,” he says. “Prosecco is typically slightly sweeter than champagne and that seems to be the draw for my guests.”

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